We've committed to this healthy life style. Running and working out as become part of who we are, but should we be changing the workouts we do as we age?

Stephanieruns Fitness

March 24, 2019 Newsletter

Fitness as we Age

This week I was chatting with my mom. Well I was talking and she was walking laps because her Fitbit told her it was time to walk. We were talking about how her fitness has changed over the past year or so. She's been diagnosed with arthritis in her hips and has had to work to maintain her mobility and keep active. We often talk about fitness and what she can do to continue to live an active life and enjoy her retirement. This made me think that this would be an excellent topic for my newsletter.

Once we become runners and become more active we usually think 'why didn't I start this sooner?' We can't go back and change the past but we can set ourselves up for a stronger future. As we age fitness becomes even more important. A while ago there was an ad on tv that asked the question 'how do you want to spend the last ten years of your life?' I'm willing to bet you want to spend the last ten years of your life as mobile and free as you can. Fitness helps keeps us moving and active. As we age there are aspects of fitness that become more important. We want to maintain and maybe even increase our mobility and we want to help prevent falls and have strong bones.

I asked on twitter this week 'how has your fitness routine changed as you've aged?' The most common answer was more rest and recovery. I think as we age we become wiser and more aware of what our bodies need. We become more willing to train smarter not harder. So let's go over some ways we should adjust of modify your training as we age. You might already be doing these things in which case you're well prepared!

I don't think it's ever too early to add in these recommendations into your training. In fact I wish when I was younger I was doing more of these things. First change I'd recommend is to listen to your body. If you've been following me a while you know this is a recommendation I make to all my athletes. As we age this becomes even more important. When we listen to our bodies we take notice of the small aches and pains. The soreness and muscle fatigue which can lead to injury. Knowing how much your body can handle and when to press pause makes you a strong athlete. This will also ensure you're able to keep running and working out.

Second thing I'd recommend adding in as we age is strength training. I hope this is something you're already doing but if it isn't add it in! Strength training will help with your bone strength which becomes even more important as we age. Start with body weight and work up to weights. You'll notice you're getting stronger if you consistently do strength training workouts.

My third recommendation would be about rest and recovery. Now this recommendation does tie in with knowing your body. As we age we might need more active recovery and rest. It's okay if you need more rest! This means you might have to structure your training plan differently. Maybe after a long run you need a rest day followed by a day with active recovery. Knowing how much rest and recovery you need will allow you to better structure your training plan and ensure you're not too exhausted on race day. This also means you might need a longer training plan than the average twelve week plan. Building in that extra time and recovery will allow you to successfully reach your goal.

My fourth recommendation is flexibility. So many runners I talk to aren't adding in any type of flexibility work. Worse some aren't doing sufficient warm ups or cool downs before and after workouts. The flexibility workouts will help with your mobility and injury prevention as you age. There are lots of flexibility workouts out there. The key is to find one that you enjoy and keep with it. The sooner your start flexibility workouts the better, but it's never too late. There are also lots of low impact flexibility workouts out there. I just discovered my local recreation centre offers tai chi in the pool which helps reduce the impact on your joints. I'm a big fan of the esssentrics workout and will talk about it more below.

I remember years ago being at a conference session on fitness after forty. The main take away for fitness professionals was to prepare our clients for aging for all of our clients over forty. There was a big focus on helping with fall prevention. As we know a fall when we are older can be very serious, which means preparing your body is important.

If your fitness routine hasn't changed and evolved as you've aged I'd recommend you take a look and review your plan. Changing how we workout doesn't make us weaker or any less of an athlete. In fact it makes us stronger and keeps us working out for many years.


The Burpee

I'm sure you all know what a burpee is and probably have a love hate relationship with them. If you're not sure what a burpee is here's a video link. So why do I want to talk about the burpee when we are discussing fitness as we age? The burpee has you get right down to the ground and then forces you to push your body weight up again. When we think of falls and falling we need to be able to get up again off the floor. The burpee is an exercise we can use to help prepare ourselves for falls.

Now the burpee isn't an exercise that everyone likes and you might not have the mobility to be able to execute a burpee. That doesn't mean you can't add burpees into your workout routine. You can always modify an exercise so that it works for you and build on it. Start with peeling back the layers on a burpee. First you're going to put both hands down on the floor, and then put your feet back so you're in a tall plank position. If you're not able to jump your feet back at first you can put your feet back one at a time. You can work at being able to jump your feet back. Now you push you lower your body to the ground before pushing yourself back up. Maybe at first you can't get yourself all the way to the ground, that's okay. It's something you can work on as well. Now you push yourself up, bring your legs in and jump. This is also something you can slow down or modify if required.

The key is to start working on and adding burpees into your workout routine. Even if you just add them in as a warm up before your run or workout. This will allow you to practice pushing yourself up off the ground. A skill we are hoping we never have to call on, but will be glad we know how to do just in case. So tell me do you add burpees into your workout routine?


If you've been following me a while you know I'm a big fan of the Essentrics workout. I found out about Essentrics years ago at a fitness conference and have been sharing their workouts ever since. In fact Essentrics, sometimes called Classical Stretch as that's the name of their show on PBS, is the workout I have my mom doing. My mom is working on maintaining and improving the mobility in her hips while working on reducing the pain. The Essentrics workout has allowed her to maintain and even increase the lengths of her walks. I had my father doing Essentrics as well and he noted that doing it make a difference in his mobility when he was weight lifting.

Now just because Essentrics is the workout I recommend to my parents doesn't mean that it's a workout just for the older generation. In fact NHL hockey teams and olympians use Essentrics to become better at their sport. Having mobility isn't something that just athletes need, it helps us in our everyday life. It makes walking and everyday tasks easier. It can also help reduce our overall pain levels. Essentrics is a workout that I do and love. I believe it helps my running and is part of my overall injury prevention plan. The workouts aren't time intensive and can easily be added as a warm up or cool down to a run.

If you have cable and access to PBS I suggest you check out their show called Classical Stretch. You can always record the show and do it later. If you don't have cable you can check out some workouts on youtube or check out their website. Try doing one or two essentrics workouts a week and let me know how you feel after a month. Adding in twenty minutes of Essentrics once or twice a week can really make a difference. I'm positive you'll see the benefit. 

Check out my Training Peak's store. I'll be adding new training plans shortly. I still have my Learn to Run Program on sale. Just in time for a late spring, or early summer 5k race!

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Stephanieruns Fitness

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Oakville Ontario,  L6M 2V5 - Canada

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Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program. This newsletter is not medical advice. Medical advice should be sought from a medical professional. Stephanieruns Fitness assumes no liability for any injuries or damages as a result of the above content.